Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
First, notice that it says, “the Holy Spirit said.” The Holy Spirit hasn’t changed; He still speaks clearly and with authority today. When the Holy Spirit speaks, it’s not optional.
What did the Holy Spirit say?
- Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.
Then what happened?
- After fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Would it be a big deal for you to be set apart and sent off?
- It’s a big deal for you.
- It’s a big deal for the people who love you.
- It’s a big deal for the people you love.
Don’t read things and accidentally minimize the human elements of the story. Similarly, don’t minimize them because they’re in the Bible and you think that’s just the way things were done then.
Karin and I were just set apart and sent to Cleveland, Ohio. We’re grateful for the assignment and believe it’s the Lord’s calling, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s difficult starting over, building the new, being away from our son and daughter, and far from our broader family and friends.
What’s my point?
- The Holy Spirit works the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. When you read or see something in the pages of Scripture, don’t leave it in the past tense. What God did in their life is what God wants to do in our lives. Pay attention to everything. Don’t just learn from their teaching; learn from the totality of their lives. How did they hear the voice of God and respond?
- We need to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit in all aspects of life, but especially when we’re interacting with Scripture. Far too often, I think we make the mistake of processing it academically instead of letting the Spirit speak directly to us in real time for personal application.
For the sake of time and what God’s emphasizing to me today, I’m going to jump ahead in the chapter.
After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:
“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’”
Did you notice the clarity of Paul’s summary?
- The Egypt Phase / The Wilderness Phase / The Promised Land Phase / The Judges Phase / The King Phase / The Arrival of Jesus
Here’s the statement that jumps out to me the most: “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (verse 22).
- What does it look like for us to be a man or woman after God’s heart?
- It’s about receiving His love.
- It’s about responding to His love.
- It’s about giving His love.
- It’s about a singular focus.
- You shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not make for yourself an idol.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- You shall remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- What does it look like for us to do all his will?
- It’s simple and straightforward: Love God + Love People = Love Works
- It’s the Great Commandment and Great Commission.
- It’s the New Commandment and Golden Rule.
- What does this look like in your circle of influence?
- How is your circle of friends seeing your heart after God?
- How does your circle of friends experience the will of God through you?
Read Acts 13:26-35, but I want to jump ahead again and focus on Acts 13:36.
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, […]
What’s the purpose of God for you in your generation?
- What’s God’s purpose for you in your circle?
- What’s God’s purpose for you in your church?
- What’s God’s purpose for you in your city?
- My purpose is to be a voice of revival and spiritual awakening.
- My purpose is to be a voice for healing, honor, and hope.
- My purpose is to be a voice that proves love works.
- My purpose involves three primary expressions:
- The local and universal church.
- Leadership in the marketplace.
- Racial reconciliation.
You are God’s son or daughter. And as His son or daughter, you are loved more than you can comprehend.
What is God’s evaluation of you as His disciple or servant leader?
What are two strategic things you can do to serve the purpose of God in your generation?
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Father, I pray for everyone who reads this blog to be filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. I pray for You to fill them up with more and more of the Holy Spirit. Give them the ability to be filled up and poured out. Give them the desire and discipline to walk by the Spirit and bear the fruits of the Spirit. I pray for the fruits of the Spirit to be expressed through their attitudes and actions. I pray for new expressions of Your presence, peace, and power to flow through our family and friends. Amen!